The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, on Thursday, restrained Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State and all security agencies in the country, from arresting the candidate of the Social Democratic Party, SDP, for the forthcoming governorship election in the state, Alhaji Murtala Ajaka.
The court made the order following a fundamental right enforcement suit that the SDP candidate brought before it.
Ajaka had in the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/952/2023, which he filed through his team of lawyers led by Mr. S. E. Aruwa, SAN, sought protection from the court.
Insisting that his life was in danger, the SDP’s flag-bearer for the gubernatorial election billed for November 11, specifically, prayed the court to enforce his fundamental rights to life, dignity of his human person, personal liberty, fair hearing, freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, freedom of movement, among others.
He anchored the suit on Sections 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 3s, 39, 40, 41, 42 and 43 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, as well as on Articles 2, 3, 4. 5, 6, 7(1), 10(1), 11(1), 12(1), 13 and 14 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, CAP A9, Laws of the Federation, 2004.
Aside from governor Bello, who was cited as the 1st Respondent, the Nigeria Police Force, the Inspector-General of Police, Commissioner of Police (Kogi state command), the Department of State Services, as well as its Director General, were listed as 2nd to 6th Respondents.
Other Respondents in the matter, are; the Director of DSS (Kogi state command), the Commandant General of the Nigeria Security & Civil Defence Corps, the Chief of Defence Staff, the Chief of Army Staff, and the Chief of Naval Staff.
In his ruling on Thursday, Justice Inyang Ekwo held that he found merit in the ex-parte motion and affidavit of urgency that the Applicant brought before the court.
He, therefore, issued an order, “restraining the Respondents, their Agents, Servants and anybody acting through or under them from arresting, inviting, detaining or threatening the Applicant’s life and property pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.”
“An Order is hereby made compelling the 2nd to 11th Respondents to immediately provide maximum security to the Applicant in Abuja, FCT, Kogi State and elsewhere in Nigeria pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.
“Applicant is hereby ordered to serve Respondents with all the processes in this suit together with the Order of Court,” Justice Ekwo held, even as he adjourned the matter to July 21st for hearing.
The court order came on a day that a frontline human rights activist, Chief Femi Falana, SAN, petitioned the IGP, Olukayode Egbetokun, urging him demobilize “armed thugs and killer squads” operating in Kogi state.
Falana, SAN, alleged that the thugs were empowered to intimidate and unleash terror on perceived political enemies.
He accused governor Bello of using both state and non-state actors to harass Ajaka and his supporters, in a bid to ensure that his cousin would emerge as his successor.
“Thus, without any legal justification, our client has become a victim of unwarranted harassment, intimidation and cheap blackmail.
“For instance, while on a thank you tour of the state on the 3rd day of June 2023, our client was attacked along with his team of supporters at about 12.30 pm after visiting the palace of His Royal Highness, the Ohimege of Koton-Karfi.
“The dastardly attack took place while our client and his supporters were returning to Lokoja around the Banda Nataco Axis. Our Client’s convoy was attacked by armed gun men who were dressed in police uniform in official vehicles of the Kogi State Government.
“Life bullets were sporadically fired directly at our client with the sole intent to assassinate him. While our client was lucky, some of his supporters were seriously injured and were rushed to the hospital where they were treated for different degrees of bullet wounds.
“It is worthy to note that shortly after this incent the Governor of Kogi State addressed his supporters on this incident wherein he referred to himself as a Lion returning to his jungle and our client as an antelope that crossed the part of the lion and threatened to deal with our client the next time he crosses his part.
“The alleged words of threat could be found on https://youtu.be/IFgS9zcgilY and all over social media platforms.
“As a follow up to this incident, our client petitioned the Commissioner of Police in Kogi State and requested that the matter be investigated but rather than carry out an investigation of the said incident, our client is now being hunted around Abuja by the State Governor.
“He has dispatched a team of police officers to arrest our client and forcefully take him to Lokoja on trumped up charges of terrorism and treasonable felony,” Falana stated in his petition.
He urged the IGP to investigate the matter and “direct the immediate demobilization of all armed thugs and killer squads set up by the State Government to intimidate the perceived political opponents” of the governor.
“Meanwhile, you may wish to direct the Commissioner of Police Kogi State to caution his men and officers from allowing themselves to be used as tools for political oppression of opposition political parties in the state and in particular our client and his supporters.
“While anxiously awaiting your urgent reply to this letter please accept the assurances of our esteem and professional regards,” Falana’s petition further read.
Source : Vanguard